Bike Petaluma Election Survey – Sara Aminzadeh Candidate for Assembly District 12
How do you get around your district?
I drive an EV and walk/bike whenever possible.
What role does bicycling and walking play in your vision for the future development of your district? If elected, what strategies/tools/resources would you utilize to realize this vision?
It’s critical that we diversify our commuter options as it reduces vehicle miles traveled and localized air pollution. Bikes and scooters offer a great solution. We must also continue to expand and electrify public transportation such as buses and trains. The state can play a key role in making sure that communities can get to work and school safely and sustainably. I support tying greenhouse gas reduction targets to transportation investments, increasing the role for CARB in transportation decisions, and incentivising transportation plans that emphasize people powered and sustainable travel.
What are your district’s biggest transportation challenges? What policies or projects would you promote to address these challenges?
Commuter traffic and the associated air pollution is the biggest transportation challenge in this district. We must expand public transportation, including SMART service, increase EV charging access, and expand and support walking and biking trails for shorter commutes.
I strongly support the public transportation goals promised by SMART, and my top priorities for optimizing service are resolving the first mile/last mile issues:
- Fund the completion of the vision of the multi-use Pathway that serves north-south and east-west throughout the county and ensure they serve the major bus and train stations, the major employers, and serve our schools.
- Connecting the Larkspur train and ferry via shuttle service. A one-year pilot project for this was proposed and has yet to be funded.
- Shuttles connecting SMART to key major employers.
MTC tends to focus on planning studies and I would encourage the entity to lean into a pilot and action-oriented posture. With COVID waning, it’s a time to lean into our transportation future with innovation and action. And if the surplus is invested as I propose below, there would be significant additional funding available for this exact kind of transportation investment to reduce our GHG footprint through vehicle miles traveled.
Parallel to these SMART optimizing solutions, our next Assemblymember must look at the pervasive traffic and congestion issues around the Greenbrae/Corte Madera and Tiburon interchanges, as well as the Highway 37 corridor project; I frequently hear frustrations from voters about this.
I’m supportive of a causeway to elevate Highway 37, which would allow for safe passage and restore habitat connectivity beneath the road/freeway and I’m also supportive of modest and expansion of the highway to reduce congestion and of proposals to run a SMART line roughly parallel to 37 on the existing freight line in the Suisun to Hamilton corridor.
I worry the current/recent proposals and vision for the project have made the project too big and expensive to execute and fund. I would urge review and restraint so that we have a version of the project that is actually fundable. It’s unclear where the $4B is coming from at this time, but this is where my experience in infrastructure, state government and philanthropy comes in. I served on President Biden’s campaign infrastructure advisory committee and am intimately familiar with federal funding options. I think philanthropic investments in the habitat restoration pieces underneath a lifted causeway could supplement the project and help us restore critical habitat. National Wildlife Federation recently raised $87M for a Highway 101 wildlife bridge in the LA Area from state grants programs, the governor’s budget and philanthropic foundations. This is the kind of deal and package I could help pull together in partnership with Senator McGuire and the Newsom Administration (who I work closely with). I agree that state funds are needed to trigger federal matches at scale, and I think Dodd’s toll approach is a decent option, provided we can craft a free pass program for lower income residents and commuters.
Why should people who care about street safety, bicycling and walking issues vote for you?
I am the leading environmental candidate in this race with an extensive background in environmental advocacy. Transforming our transportation infrastructure is a key part of our energy transition as we work to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. This is my top priority. The state legislature has an incredible opportunity to work with local communities to ensure that people can live in safe, walkable, and breathable spaces.
What role do you think bicycling and walking play in addressing the climate crisis?
As I mentioned above, diversifying transportation options and associated infrastructure is a critical piece in our efforts to meet the climate emergency.
How would you define transportation equity, and how would you work to improve it in your district?
True transportation equity means that every member of our community has the ability to safely and sustainably travel to work, school, or home. Race is the single most significant predictor of a person living near contaminated air, water, soil, or toxic waste sites. Breathing polluted air and drinking polluted water directly contribute to life-long respiratory complications and cancers and congested streets increase pedestrian deaths. If environmental and climate injustices are left unaddressed, existing racial health disparities will be exacerbated. Vehicle electrification will take us a long way in reducing disproportionate localized pollution. In addition, other solutions such as pedestrian only streets, expanded bike and walking paths, and affordable housing near the workplace can improve communities and save lives.
Do you support AB-1713 the bill for improving bicycle safety at intersections?